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What is the best technology for students today?

Carlos Cruz

Carlos Cruz

Faculty contributing writer

So you are new to MMCC and you are wondering what technology will work best for your courses? What I consider to be the best technology is something that students will use as a tool for their profession and their studies.

With that said, presently any form of iPod or tablet is not going to work as well by itself as would software for a laptop or desktop computer (still superior for completing homework and projects). However, in the near future Windows 8 tablets will advance with the new version of Microsoft Office and software will become integrated for the tablet. Both Windows 8 and the Office Suite are releasing a customer preview for users to try out.

Meanwhile, we need to consider what type of classes you (as students and professionals) are going to take and what software is required, and whether the technology is going to last for several years.

Your best bet is to own a good laptop (and a soft neoprene case to protect it, when carrying it around). Most laptops are inexpensive today. Consider what your area of concentration is going to be and what your basic, present and future interests are.

What you should avoid is using your laptop for gaming. This way you can fill the computer with the right kind of tools for academic and professional success. If you are a computer novice, gaming computers usually crash, and are susceptible to viruses.  Also let’s face it, what’s more valuable: doing your homework or procrastinating?

What type of laptop? Again consider your industry and this time focus on computer memory and RAM memory. Max out on both. Don’t forget to include a WIRELESS CARD or WLAN. With Wireless/WiFi access you will be able to use the internet throughout most parts of the campus.

Today, most industry standards are relying upon the Windows platform. The advantage of the PC is that it is usually inexpensive to purchase and the software is also cheaper in comparison to the MAC. If I were a graphic design student I would buy a MAC laptop. The main reason being is that the print quality and screen resolution from the MAC is finer, resulting in true color both onscreen and in print. Also, MACs are the standard for the graphic design, film, and marketing industry.

If I were going into accounting, I would buy a PC. Most banks, accounting and financial firms run on Windows as a standard. In my experience, QuickBooks software is easier and more efficient on the PC in comparison to the MAC’s version.

If you’re like me, someone who uses both the MAC and PC because of specific software needs, sensitive to each operating system, then my recommendation is to purchase a newer cross-platform MAC. As many of you already know, the latest models of the Macintosh Operating System allow two operating systems to run on the same computer.

For example I could use something called BootCamp (it comes with the MAC) when installed correctly, and it will allow me to run a Windows Operating System like Windows 7 and a MAC Operating System (OSX) like Snow Leopard or Lion. The disadvantage with BootCamp is that it will not allow sharing of software, so you will need to reboot to the PC when needing PC software (at the start up).  If you spend an extra $80, you can purchase Parallels Desktop for MAC; it allows you to run Windows and Mac applications side by side, without rebooting. Please refer to this link: http://www.parallels.com

Finally compare the merits of the cell phone vs. the iPhone or the Android. An important tool is the cell phone or, better yet, a device that will let you use the internet for research and text. If you can afford the iPhone or the Android, I highly recommend either as well. The nice thing about both devices is that you can use the GPS on the device, check your email, use the dictionary, take photos/video and do research between classes. The downside is that you might have to pay a steep device cost and monthly charge (similar to a monthly cell phone bill).

TMobile Samsung Galaxy 4G (Android) is free with a plan, not as expensive as an iPhone, and now includes many usable apps.

If you are using Android apps for working with Microsoft Word on a deadline, try Kingsoft Free Office Applications for Android, found at this url: http://www.kingsoftstore.com

When working with less sophisticated versions of Microsoft Office/QuickOffice for iPhone, found at this url: http://www.quickoffice.com/quickoffice_pro_iphone – there is an app charge of $14.99.

What’s a waste of money? Of course everything is relative, but I would stay away from paying for online games that deplete other monthly financial resources and allocations. Instead, save money! For example, look into stocks: http://www.scottrade.com. Invest in your education and visit the library. That’s the best game of all, getting the largest return for your effort, and seeing your bank balance equate to real income, not virtual points.

(Carlos Cruz is an instructor of Computer Information Systems & Graphic Design at MMCC.)


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